Damp Proofer

The Job and What's Involved

Damp proofers provide a service to customers who have damp problems with residential or commercial properties. They may also install damp-proof courses to old properties where necessary.

A damp-proof course is a horizontal layer of water-proof/water-repellent material which prevents moisture rising up the wall from the ground.

In the case of new property, damp courses are laid as the walls are constructed and a layer of damp-proof membrane or material is installed between the bricks. They are installed by the bricklayers as they do the brickwork.

Problems with damp on older properties may be caused by:

  • Lack of an original damp course when the property was built.
  • Failure/breakdown of the original damp course by the introduction of raised paths, drive or flower beds.
  • Movement damage to an existing wall after the building was erected.

Walls can become damp from the foundations upwards if a damp-proof course has been breached or if no damp-proof course exists, and this is called rising damp. Rising damp will continue and cause dampness inside the property, ruining the decorations and causing rotting of contact timber (joists, floorboards and skirting boards).

The work begins with an inspection of the property, using moisture meters, to check the nature of the problem and find out whether:

  • A damp course exists.
  • Cracked render or broken brickwork may be responsible.
  • There are signs of penetrating damp being drawn through walls.
  • Black-spot mould is occurring.
  • There is evidence of decay or insect infestation.
  • There is evidence of condensation or wall cracking.
  • Appropriate ventilation has been provided.

As a result of these investigations, recommendations are made which will include an estimate for the work required. This may involve:

  • Minimising moisture sources.
  • Ensuring adequate ground drainage around the building.
  • Ensuring that surface water is drained clear of the foot of the walls.
  • Repairing structural damage.
  • Installing a chemical damp-proof course into existing brickwork.

A number of remedial damp-proof course (DPC) systems are available to the damp proofer most of which involve drilling holes in the walls and using high-pressure or low-pressure DPC injection of mortar or injected creams or gels.

Damp proofers usually work a 38-hour week, Monday to Friday, but may sometimes be required to work overtime, including evenings and weekends. Hours worked depend upon the location of the job, the requirements of the customer and in some cases on the weather. It may not be possible to work at all in very bad weather.

The work is mainly outdoors and is very physical. Working conditions can sometimes be uncomfortable. In summer it may be very hot and in winter cold and wet. A considerable amount of travelling may be involved between different work sites and projects, and a driving licence may be useful.

Starting salaries for damp proofers range from around £12,000 to £15,000 a year. Damp proofers are paid in line with industry-recommended rates. Bonus payments are a regular feature of this type of work.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are over 1,500 damp proofing contractors across the UK. Approximately 300 are members of the Property Care Association, which is a division of the British Wood Preserving and Damp Proofing Association (BWPDA). They are listed on the BWPDA website.

There are also many companies working in related fields such as timber treatment, waterproofing and pest control.

Applications could be made directly to individual companies. Vacancy information may be available from Jobcentre Plus offices and in the local press. Some companies may advertise for unqualified staff. Self-employment is possible.

Education and Training

No set academic qualifications are required, but GCSE's (A-E) in English and maths are an advantage as damp proofers need to be able to calculate quantities, make estimates and keep written records.

There are no colleges providing apprenticeship training, but some private companies may consider an apprenticeship deal.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is mainly on the job under the supervision of experienced damp proofers, with special courses available on safety awareness from the damp-proof installer companies. BWPDA run short class-based courses for technicians and there are also some instruction courses run by the manufacturers.

Damp proofing skills are also eligible for occupational assessment under the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS Card). NVQ Level 2 Insulation and Remedial Maintenance Operations is required for this and has been developed by CITB-ConstructionSkills.

Courses approved by CITB-ConstructionSkills are certificated and recognised throughout the industry. Details of courses and providers can be obtained from CITB-ConstructionSkills regional offices.

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You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A damp proofer should:

  • Enjoy facing new challenges.
  • Enjoy working as part of a team on a project.
  • Have hand skills for operating drills and specialist machinery.
  • Have good health and stamina.
  • Be willing to travel.
  • Be able to follow written and spoken instructions.
  • Be able to work and co-operate with other people, including customers.
  • Pay attention to detail.

Your Long Term Prospects

There are prospects for promotion to remedial treatment surveyor or supervisory posts. The BWPDA runs its own training courses for surveyors and technicians.

Some damp proofers may become self-employed.

Get Further Information

The British Wood Preserving and Damp-proofing Association (BWPDA),
1 Gleneagles House, Vernongate, Derby DE1 1UP
Tel: 01332 225100
Website: www.bwpda.co.uk

CITB-ConstructionSkills,
Bircham Newton, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577
Websites: www.bconstructive.co.uk and
www.citb-constructionskills.co.uk/careers

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